EPA Honors 2021 Asthma Award Winners
WASHINGTON (May 5, 2021) — To mark Asthma Awareness Month, today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is honoring two exceptional community-based asthma programs with the 2021 National Environmental Leadership in Asthma Management Award. EPA is recognizing the Central California Asthma Collaborative’s (CCAC) Asthma Impact Model (AIM) Program and Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego (RCHSD) for their leadership in promoting environmental asthma management as part of comprehensive asthma care in the communities they serve. For the past 16 years, each May during Asthma Awareness Month, the agency has recognized programs across the United States for their dedication to improving the lives of millions of people who suffer from asthma, and to reducing missed days at school and work.
“Growing up with respiratory challenges in North Carolina, I know the struggle that millions of Americans suffer on a daily basis,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’m also keenly aware of how asthma disproportionately affects children of families living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution. Innovative programs like CCAC and RCHSD play a crucial role in combating this serious, sometimes life-threatening disease by tackling it at a community level.”
Over 24 million Americans have asthma, including 5.5 million children. EPA is committed to reducing the national burden of asthma by implementing a multi-faceted program comprised of research, regulatory measures, and non-regulatory community-based technical assistance, outreach, and education campaigns. EPA facilitates a network of more than 1,100 community-based programs to find local solutions, particularly in disadvantaged communities, for delivering and sustaining comprehensive asthma care. Through technical assistance, identifying and spreading best practices for sustainable, comprehensive asthma care, and facilitating peer-to-peer learning opportunities, EPA is helping more and more community-based programs to deploy innovative approaches and best practices to successfully improve the health and well-being of people with asthma in their communities.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease, and although there is no cure for asthma yet, extensive evidence suggests that reducing exposure to indoor irritants such as secondhand smoke, indoor allergens such as house dust mites, pests, mold, animals, and outdoor air pollution can prevent asthma attacks or lessen their severity.
2021 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management Winners:
Central California Asthma Collaborative (Fresno, California)
Central California Asthma Collaborative's (CCAC) Asthma Impact Model (AIM) Program is aimed at improving the lives of low-income, predominately Hispanic and African American Medi-Cal and uninsured patients suffering from asthma by reducing in-home environmental triggers, ensuring access to and proper use of asthma medications, and facilitating regular visits to healthcare providers. Asthma prevalence across the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley served by CCAC has reached as high as 20% in school age children. The Valley’s aging housing stock is a significant contributor to home environmental asthma triggers. That, combined with the poorest outdoor air quality in the nation, has created a perfect storm for high rates of poorly controlled asthma. CCAC was established in 2011 to develop an in-home asthma program for children residing in low-income housing and communities of color. Over time, CCAC has partnered with health plans to receive direct patient referrals for high-risk asthmatic patients with high health care utilization. In response to COVID-19, CCAC has adapted the AIM program to a virtual visit model to continue to provide participants with personalized asthma education and home remediation services. As a result of their work, asthma-related hospitalizations decreased by 70%, asthma-related emergency department usage decreased by 81%, and asthma-related outpatient visits decreased by 53%.
Rady Children’s Hospital -San Diego (San Diego, California)
Established in 1954, Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego (RCHSD) has evolved from a 59-bed hospital for child polio victims to a 524-bed pediatric medical center servicing San Diego, Imperial, and southern Riverside counties. Rady Children’s Health Network (RCHN) is a Clinically Integrated Network that combines primary care, specialty care, and hospital-based services. Of the asthma population seen in the emergency department, the children are primarily Latinx (65%) and African American (12%). Many of the children live in neighborhoods commonly associated with inequities related to poverty, poor outdoor air quality and other socioeconomic and cultural factors. For the past five years, RCHSD has implemented a Community Approach to Severe Asthma Program, an innovative initiative utilizing a community health worker (CHW) model with the goal of improving management and outcomes for children with severe asthma. CHWs contact the families of these children and perform in-home visits to conduct environmental assessments, reinforce health care provider instructions, assess asthma control and set behavioral/environmental change goals. Due to COVID -19, the team moved the home visit program to a completely virtual format with great success. Natural cleaning kits are distributed to all participants in the program, and home remediation supplies such as dust mite encasings for beds, HEPA filters, and closed lid garbage cans are distributed as needed. The program has seen up to a 75% reduction in emergency department return rates for both Medi-Cal patients and those with commercial insurance. RCHSD is also advocating with legislators in the State of California to drive expanded reimbursement for in-home environmental care services, specifically for Medi-Cal health plans.
The award winners will be recognized tonight at a virtual awards gala hosted by The Allergy and Asthma Network in conjunction with Allergy and Asthma Awareness Day on Capitol Hill.
For more information about EPA’s work to reduce exposure to indoor asthma triggers, visit https://www.epa.gov/asthma